The New York Giants have two top 10 selections in the 2022 NFL Draft, and a serious candidate for the Giants is Cincinnati cornerback Ahmad ‘Sauce’ Gardner. The Giants hired Don ‘Wink’ Martindale to employ his defensive philosophy which is predicated on press-man coverage and aggressive blitzing packages. In order for that to succeed, the Giants need coverage cornerbacks who can jam and disrupt the release of opposing wide receivers. Gardner has the length, experience, and mentality to have success as a press-man coverage cornerback in the NFL.
Gardner was under-recruited out of high school as a 160-pound cornerback. He was an immediate impact player for the Bearcats and was first-team All-AAC in all three seasons in Cincinnati. Gardner uses his length well at the line of scrimmage, but there are some technical issues that can be improved; at times, he reaches and lunges and doesn't always bring his feet with him to keep wide receivers framed and square.
I am not very concerned with these issues. Cornerbacks typically don’t possess the type of height/length and fluidity that Gardner showed throughout his college film. He is a high-cut cornerback who played balanced, tough, and showed good film as a man and zone coverage cornerback.
Gardner allowed a 43 percent catch rate throughout his college career. He finished the 2021 season with 40 tackles, five for a loss, three sacks, three interceptions, and four passes defended. He finished his three seasons as a Bearcat with 99 tackles, 5.5 for a loss, 3.5 sacks, nine interceptions, and 16 passes defended. Gardner was more disciplined in 2021 when he only had two penalties; he had seven in 2020 and five in 2019.
Gardner is a disruptive menace for opposing wide receivers. His fit with Martindale’s scheme makes sense, and it would significantly help the Giants transition to the more blitz-happy philosophy, especially if James Bradberry isn’t with the team in 2022. Here’s a video detailing his unique skill-set: